The HT-X710T was one of Samsung's funkier home theater products of 2008, a 2.1-style (two speakers plus subwoofer) home theater system with a tapered, wall-mountable DVD player head unit. While the 2009 follow-up shares a similar "Touch of Color" red-accented design and curved enclosures, the HT-BD7200 gets a Blu-ray upgrade (replete with BD-Live capability and Dolby TrueHD and DTS-HD Master Audio decoding) and support for streaming Netflix online video and the Pandora music service. It's also Wi-Fi-ready, but you'll need to invest in a separate USB 802.11n dongle, or stick with wired Ethernet … Read more
The Samsung HT-X810T--which debuted at 2008's Consumer Electronics Show--wasn't the first sound bar home theater system with a built-in DVD player (that'd be the Philips HTS8100). When CNET eventually reviewed it, we praised the inclusion of the wireless subwoofer, but included this knock: "the [built-in] DVD player's nice, but a Blu-ray player would have been even better." Well, it seems Samsung took that criticism to heart. The 2009 version, known as the HT-BD8200, does indeed get the upgrade to a Blu-ray player. Like the other models in the Sammy's '09 line-up, it'… Read more
Don't want the champagne-glass tallboy speakers of the LG LHB979 home-theater system? Step on down to the LHB954. You'll lose a few of the 979's value-added features (wireless rear speakers, HDMI inputs), but you'll still get a 1,000-watt Blu-ray home theater system that offers access to Netflix, CinemaNow, and YouTube streaming and an integrated iPod dock. The LHB979 also sports unique-looking spherical speakers. The built-in Blu-ray player is fully BD-Live compliant, and includes full Dolby TrueHD and DTS-HD Master Audio decoding. Look for the LHB954 in May 2009 (price TBD).
Unlike Panasonic and Samsung, LG didn't offer any home theater systems with built-in Blu-ray players in 2008. No problem: the company gets to hit the ground running in 2009 with fully loaded Blu-ray models like its flagship home theater system, the LHB979. The 5.1-channel system takes its design cues from last year's DVD-only LHT888, with champagne-glass front-tower speakers and smaller rears that can be connected wirelessly (obviating the need for front-to-back speaker wires in the room). LG boasts that the LHB979 is "tuned by renowned audio expert Mr. Mark Levinson," but we'll have to … Read more
Expecting great sound from a home theater in a box (HTIB) is almost always an exercise in frustration.
Even the top-of-the-line HTIBs, such as Sony's ES BDV-IT1000ES ($2,000 MSRP) don't hold a candle to an equivalently priced separates-based system. It's not even close.
Sound, schmound. Given that HTIBs are sold as lifestyle products, it's more important for them to look good than sound good. Product designers are compelled to make speakers that look slick hugging the wall next to a flat-screen display. That's why we're so jazzed by Onkyo's HT-S9100THX HTIB ($1,099 MSRP). Sleek, it ain't, but it sure sounds like a separates-grade home theater system.
The HT-S9100THX's largish shipping box hints at the reasons why. It weighs a hefty 144 pounds. Inside, you'll find seven bookshelf two-way speakers, a full-size subwoofer, and a 7x 130-watt-per-channel receiver with 1080p-capable HDMI v.1.3 connectivity, and complete decoding for the latest lossless, high-resolution Dolby TrueHD and DTS-HD Master Audio surround formats. You get four--count 'em, four--HDMI inputs, same as Onkyo's TX-SR706 receiver ($899 MSRP).
The HT-S9100THX's receiver also features Audyssey's 2EQ automatic calibration to tailor the sound of the speakers and the 290-watt, 12-inch powered subwoofer, and compensate for your room's acoustic anomalies. The front three speakers feature a 1-inch soft-dome tweeter matched with dual 5-inch woofers; the four surround speakers use the same tweeter and a slightly smaller woofer. The 17.5 by 14.9 by 16.8 inch subwoofer weighs 34 pounds. Compared to the 6-inch plastic poser subs that come with so many HTIBs it's the 800-pound gorilla. You'll feel the difference.… Read more
Standalone Blu-ray players may still be expensive, but you know Blu-ray can't be too far from being a "commodity" feature when it starts getting bundled in with home-theater-in-a-box (HTIB) systems. While we've already seen HTIBs with Blu-ray from Panasonic and Samsung, these are the first systems from Sony, and also the first that we've seen with Blu-ray players that are upgradeable to Blu-ray Profile 2.0. Here's the summary of the information Sony has released so far:
Key features of the Sony BDV-IS1000:5.1-speaker system, with five tiny speakers Currently Profile 1.1, … Read more
Samsung was officially the first to offer up a home-theater-in-a-box system with Blu-ray (although Panasonic was right behind), but as you might expect, we found the $1,500 system a little overpriced for what it offered. Samsung has now announced a follow-up budget Blu-ray HTIB, the HT-BD2E, and at nearly half the price ($800), it has the potential to be a far more appealing product. Let's check out the key features, or at least what we know so far.
Key features of the Samsung HT-BD2E:5.1 channel system, 800 watts total power Four satellite speakers, one center speaker … Read more
The worlds of home-theater-in-a-box (HTIB) systems and audiophiles are pretty much mutually exclusive, but Onkyo traditionally has come the closest to making it work. Unlike most companies, Onkyo tends to include separates-style AV receiver and full-size speakers in its HTIBs, eschewing the lifestyle-friendly tiny speakers that you see on systems from Sony and Panasonic. Onkyo has announced two new HTIB systems in this style, the HT-S6100 and the HT-S7100, and both are significantly more featured than your average HTIB setup. Let's take a look at their key features:
The Onkyo HT-S6100… Read more
A second Blu-ray home theater system has joined Samsung's product lineup. The HT-BD2S is essentially identical to its predecessor, the Samsung HT-BD2T, but with two important distinctions: the BD2S has small satellite speakers (versus the four tallboy models that anchored the BD2T), and it's available for an even $1,000 (a 33 percent discount off the BD2T's asking price).
Does the downsized price and speaker size make the HT-BD2S more attractive than its big brother?… Read more
Home-theater-in-a-box systems are usually geared toward budget buyers that don't want to deal with the hassle of separate components. Pioneer's new high-style HTIB, the HTS-LX70 takes a decidedly different approach, offering up HTIB simplicity, at a component-level price. Here's a quick rundown of the important specifications:
Key features of the Pioneer HTS-LX70:Four multidirectional satellite speakers 7.06-inch dual-drive subwoofer Three HDMI 1.3 inputs Onboard decoding for Dolby TrueHD and DTS-HD Master Audio Illuminated LCD touch-panel remote XM and Sirius ready Two optical digital audio inputs $1,800 list price, available now
Eagle-eyed enthusiasts will spot … Read more